"Kitchenware Revolution" to protest Icelandic financial crisis Favorite 



Jan 20 2009


Reykjavík Iceland

In 2008, Iceland was in turmoil. There was a systematic failure of its three main commercial banks. The Economist called the collapse the largest suffered by any country in history, relative to Iceland’s population size. In response to what was seen as government inertia, protests began to take place from around October of that year. However, the real fun began in January 2009. As one Icelandic blogger wrote, ‘On January 20th [2008], the Icelandic coalition government of the Independence Party and the Social Democratic Alliance reconvened in parliament after their three-week Christmas break. The agenda for their first day back included issues that obviously are crucial when you’ve got a collapsed economy on your hands: discussing smoking areas in restaurants and whether or not to sell alcohol in shops.’

Alda Sigmundsdóttir, writer of the Iceland Weather Report blog, goes on to explain ‘It was the final straw and showed more clearly than anything else the immense gulf that was between the politicians and the people of [Iceland]. The anger had been seething among ordinary citizens for weeks. By and large we had been extremely well-behaved. We got together at our appointed times on Saturday afternoons to listen to rousing speeches and shout a few slogans; some threw eggs and toilet paper at the parliament building. And nothing changed. The government operated behind closed doors and, when confronted, exhibited outrageous arrogance towards the people of [Iceland]. But mostly they made sure they weren’t in a position to be confronted.’

So on the 20th January, 2009demonstrators decided to meet on the day of the government meeting with ‘anything they could bang together that would make a noise’. What had started out as tens of people quickly turned to hundreds, then thousands, all clanging saucepans and pots together every day to distract the politicians that had let them down until eventually the ruling right-wing coalition resigned. This became known in Iceland as the Kitchenware Revolution.

Posted by norrisp on